A number of reports are now showing that there is an alarming number of pharmaceuticals, including antidepressant drugs, in the water supply that we use daily. Drugs given to humans as well as animals are making their way into lakes and rivers and eventually our drinking water, with devastating effects to the food chain and the environment.
Our tap water has been shown to contain pharmaceuticals such as the antidepressant drugs Prozac and Effexor, sedatives, addictive psychoactive and anticonvulsant medications. In addition, anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, oral contraceptives, antibiotics, hormone replacement therapies and beta-blockers have all been found.
How are these drugs getting into the water supply?
Many people dispose of old pills improperly by flushing them down the toilet. However, the largest contributor to pharmaceuticals in the water supply is the excretion of them by human beings.
People typically excrete part of their daily dosage as a matter of course, but in some cases they are being grossly over-prescribed. In fact, it’s estimated that anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of the medications taken by Americans are not processed by the body.
Tap water has become a serious threat to human health
Another way these drugs are making their way into water systems is from the big pharma drug manufacturing facilities themselves. In 2009, environmental pharmacologist Joakim Larsson of the Swedish University of Gothenburg found high concentrations of pharmaceuticals like antibiotics just downstream of drug manufacturing plants in India. The levels detected were as much as prescribed doses in some cases.
Sadly, the metabolites of many of these medications remain active long after being released into the environment. Sewage treatment plants cannot filter them out, so the active chemicals of these drugs get recycled back into community water systems. A couple of years later, Larsson also found major antibiotic resistance in the genetics of the bacteria in the water.
These drugs have a profound effect on the environment
While in most cases the amounts of drugs found are much lower than a typical dose, this makes it hard to determine the effect on the water supply and ecosystem. Small organisms like algae could be profoundly affected, but researchers may not be able to see this right away; often, the damage doesn’t become evident until there is a population crash in a bigger species.
A crash of this type happened in India from the years 1996 to 2007, when the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac caused millions of indigenous vultures to die off, driving the species nearly to extinction. This drug was given to cattle, and when animals died, the vultures ate their carcasses and ingested the drug as well. Similar toxic effects occurred in vultures in Europe and Africa.
The anti-inflammatory drug Ibuprofen has been shown to disrupt reproduction in fish.Other environmental effects include antidepressants disrupting the movement of snails, altering spawning behaviors in clams, diminishing learning in cuttlefish and causing aggressiveness in crayfish.
The only sure way to avoid ingesting most (unwanted) toxins is to invest in a water purification system for the home. Even better: If possible, try to locate a natural spring because (energetically) it’s the best.
As far as pharmaceutical drugs floating in the tap water – it’s tough to avoid and even tougher to test. But, bottom line, it’s still better to purify your drinking water to remove as many toxins as possible.